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Opinion
Kasumi Iwase

Obesity Is Now Africa’s Health Care Crisis, Too

Tackling non-communicable disease requires far better preventive care such as health checks.

Smarter shopping.

Smarter shopping.

Photographer: Waldo Swiegers

When it comes to health issues in Africa, people think of chronic hunger, or infectious diseases such as malaria or HIV/AIDS. But Africa is simultaneously struggling with an increase in noncommunicable diseases, most of them related to obesity.

The recently published Global Wellness Index set alarm bells ringing when South Africa scored poorly for life expectancy, alcohol use, depression and diabetes. When stacked up alongside the G20 nations and the 20 most populous countries, South Africa – once a shining beacon of economic growth - came last. But for anyone who has worked in health care in the country, or elsewhere in Africa, this is no surprise at all.